As we gear up for the public launch of Magma, I’m starting to feel as if we are heading out into the unknown. I’m worried and excited for the same reasons: We are going at it with no investment, no PR company, no advertising or sponsorship deals in place, no anything really, just a website and a few computers.
From my experience with Rocketboom, I know this is not going to be easy. Rocketboom is a simple idea, and could be simple to sustain if there was already an established marketplace for video content online. In that case, we would just focus on making the show better. As a new online content studio expanding into our own studio network we must regularly engage with new technologies, new legal issues around copyrights and licensing, new forms of distribution, new ways of interacting with our audience and completely new business models including new ways of doing advertising in new international marketplaces, none of which existed to support video online when Rocketboom started.
Magma is even more complex in being a platform *for* video, in general. In terms of it’s product offerings, it’s a video aggregator, a social network for video, a place to collect video, statistical charts, a tv guide, a short URL service, a video search engine – it sounds like a crazy undertaking which is why I’m even more excited and amazed that we were able to build it so quickly and cheaply. And so too, the scare: the business model is also complex and no easy job to pull off well: It involves market research, statistics, video advertising, API licensing and branded partnerships.
Having never raised money before, but having read my share of Techmeme articles, I knew it would be a challenge to justify all of this and I found myself out pitching the idea of Magma, based on my own “self-proclaimed” foresight, instead of pitching something that already existed that someone could see and experience. It didn’t feel right. If I was proposing to launch a Moon lander (something I would also like to do one day), I would have no choice but to raise investment first. For Magma, the fact of the matter is, while it could be helpful, we didn’t *need* any outside investment to get the site built and launched.
Recent years have seen a boon in internet companies in a similar position of being able to take off with minimal resources. As I’ve mentioned, Rocketboom is one example and plenty of people have done much more with much less. It’s extra hard work, but its also extra fulfilling when it works out. With regards to Magma, I’m probably most excited because I believe we identified a massive hole in the marketplace and I think Magma has the potential to be not just any entry point into online video, but all together, THE entry point.
Despite all the uncertainties, high bars and high hopes, it’s the same kind of excitement I had after dreaming up Rocketboom. What worked then was identifying what would likely happen in the world, racing to be amongst the first to execute and focusing on making the offering as good as possible. Beyond that, staying plugged in and a step ahead of technology, remaining transparent, growing spending based on growth in revenue, and building out a team of only the best. With both Rocketboom and Magma we have a long way to go to realize our full potential, but in terms of living the life, its happening.